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By John Wesley Hall
President's Column columns.
Should we punish a bad bet like we punish a bad act? What distinguishes a miscalculation of risk from the occurrence of a crime? Should a questionable business decision that hurt a lot of people automatically lead to prison time?
These are some of the difficult questions that federal prosecutors will face in the months and years to come as they consider the public pressure to seek retribution as part of the government response to some of the causes of the meltdown of our economy. The investigations will be huge and take forever. Some cases will likely not even come to trial until the end of President Obama’s first term in 2013.
It is understandable that people who have witnessed the loss of their jobs or their savings or retirement accounts, sometimes losing everything, will desperately yearn to place blame on somebody’s shoulders. The challenge for prosecutors and law enforcement, however, is to focus on determining whether and where criminal prosecutions or civil remedies are warranted
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